Cinnamon for the Holidays and throughout the year

Cinnamon is the spice of home and hearth. It is derived from the bark of an evergreen tree in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The best quality cinnamon is harvested from the truck and graded according to its length, breadth, and thickness. The quills are then cut from the bark.

Cinnamon’s sweet and spicy bite has been heralded since the beginning of human history. God commanded Moses to include cinnamon in a recipe for sacred anointing oil. The Greeks and Romans offered it to their Gods.

Today cinnamon is used in popular sweet dishes like apple pie, coffee cake, buns, muffins, cakes and cookies. Cinnamon sticks are stirred into hot beverages, including mulled cider and wine. Ironically, the spices that cooks use to give sugary confections more flavor, may also help to balance blood sugar levels.

In addition to cinnamon’s reported ability to control blood sugar levels, there have been studies done which indicate that just smelling cinnamon may boost your ability to think and remember. A study conducted by Phillip Zoladz, PhD, a professor of psychology at Ohio Northern University, found that students scored better on several mental performance tests after smelling or tasting cinnamon. As I write this blog, I have a few cinnamon sticks sitting by the computer to keep me going. Sniffing a little cinnamon also seems to keep me looking on the bright side of life.

With this in mind, why not sprinkle cinnamon on apples, bananas, melons and oranges? Add cinnamon to hot cocoa and sprinkle a little into beef stew, lentil soup, or meatloaf. I love to pepper my bowl of hot oatmeal with a generous dusting of cinnamon. As a child I often asked my grandmother to make cinnamon sugar toast as a treat. Such a happy memory.

What ideas do you have for using this amazing spice in your life? Does anyone else keep a few cinnamon sticks by your computer?